Monthly Archives: Jun 2017

Working in the garden

Julia needed a willing workhorse this morning. When she couldn’t find one she had to do with a mithering fatman.

The task was sawing pallets up to make garden benches. Julia has a video on how to make a bench from a single pallet. Unfortunately our pallets aren’t the same size as the ones in the video (8 slats instead of 9) so there’s an element of mix and match involved.

There are some excellent benches on show, but we’re aiming for functionality rather than upholstery.

I will take some photographs when we get one together. With no electricity and a blunt hand saw, this might take some time. The fact I’m not allowed to be an official volunteer isn’t actually helping either. It also doesn’t help when you have to evict a family of magpies before starting. We aren’t sure why they like it in the polytunnel but the first job of the day is always to chase four protesting magpies out. Over the years we had a few birds in the polytunnels on the farm, but never anything like this.

Fruit and flowers were looking good, and the rain stopped for a while.

 

Drizzling, Mizzling and Grizzling

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Eskimoes have 50 words for snow. There’s quite a lot of debate on this subject but you have to start somewhere. The FT did a list of 5 of the best English words for rain. The Scots seem to have a lot of words for it too. They don’t seem to use siling down or mizzling. They appear on a list of Lincolnshire words, though we use them in Nottingham too.

Yesterday, it drizzled. That’s just rain that really can’t be bothered.It’s definitely rain, but lacks enthusiasm, and comes without mist, wind, cold or misery.

We went to Spalding yesterday, more because we had a day off than because we wanted to drive through the Fens in the rain. Destination was Springfields designer outlet. The bookshop has closed. Along with other closures it now only has one shop, a craft shop, that we want. I say “we”…

I took pictures of a duck marshalling three ducklings through the centre. Unfortunately I hadn’t, at that time, discovered the zoom on the telephone’s camera. I then took pictures of ducks doing other duck things. Once I’ve set the phone up to do email I will put the results on the blog. Don’t expect too much.

Today, it mizzled .That, according to my personal grading system, is rain that lacks conviction and comes with a side order of mist. It’s similar to the “soft day” of the Irish, but lacks the grim edge of the Scottish “dreich” day.

Today I dropped Julia off at work then went to ASDA to eat the worst breakfast I’ve ever had. This wasn’t actually the plan, but it was what happened. Not only did I endure leathery bacon, dry sausages and unpleasant beans, but I didn’t really enjoy the hash browns or the eggs. The tinned tomatoes were adequate, but they are hard to mess up. Only the mushrooms were good.

A group of three builders was eating breakfast too. I don’t think they were impressed either as one of them shouted across to the server as he chipped away at his food.

“Oi, love, have you been keeping this warm from last week?”

She didn’t answer. This wasn’t unexpected as charm and humour had been noticeably absent from the serving process.

From there it was but a short trip to Newark. Thursday is flea market day and time to catch up on the news. Unfortunately I can’t repeat any of the gossip as the trade talk is dull, as is the grizzling about the good old days, and the interesting stuff is almost certainly slanderous.

I took some pictures from the car park, using the camer’s settings to brighten them.  I would have taken more, but I’d rather wait for a nice sunny day. It is, as you can see, quite an interesting town.

 

Vietnam

These are some photographs Number One Son took on his recent trip to Vietnam. It’s a relief to Julia that he’s back safely because some of the airlines he flew with are more notable for cheapness than safety.

I’m not sure what they are of, but they look quite good, particularly as they are taken with a phone. I took some photographs on my phone today.  They weren’t as good as these, but wet ducks in Lincolnshire drizzle were never going to compete with the spleandour of the orient.

Looks like time for me to move over and make room for the next generation.

Who is the Best Bear?

I’ve been struggling today – having written over a thousand words and deleted most of them. The remaining fragment is saved as a draft and may never be published, which is ironic when you consider the subject is publication.

The trouble is that I kept getting bogged down with the misery of a serious intro.

So I’m now just going to get straight to the point.

The subject is bears, specifically which is the best bear, with a digression into bears that might have been,

Our bear, as seen in the picture, is Farmer Ted. He’s a bear known to only a few, though he is an excellent fellow and sound on rural matters.

His main competition comes from Rupert, Winnie the Pooh, Paddington and Yogi. I’m also fond of the Bulgy Bears, though they aren’t as well known as the rest. Number Two son has just nominated the three bears of Goldilocks fame, Kung Fu Panda and Bear in the Big Blue House. I’ve also just thought of Aloysius from Brideshead. Even better, I actually remembered how to spell it.

So, first question, who is your favourite bear?

My second question is – who else do you think wasted their talents instead of writing about bears?

If T S  Eliot had concentrated on his lighter side and produced a bear book instead of messing about with the Four Quartets he could have been onto something. He did alright with cats so I don’t see why not.

There’s also Barrie, Grahame, Sassoon, Gavin Maxwell…

Memoirs of a Bear Hunting Man would have been a much fairer contest and Ring of Bright Water would not have ended well for the man with the shovel.

Bear of the Baskervilles anyone?

 

Robin Hood’s Bay

Yes, it’s more photos from the trip to the seaside. Robin Hood’s Bay is nowhere near Sherwood Forest – it’s between Whitby and Scarborough. It has a very interesting history, but to be honest, we tend to park in the viewpoint at the top of the hill.

It was a bit hazy on the day, so I used the “pop-art” setting on the camera to brighten things up. It isn’t very realistic, but it’s cheerful. It’s also as realistic as most of the 60’s postcards I remember from childhood.

There was a good variety of plant life in the grass around the parking area, and it was very easy to access as you had tarmac to walk on.

I’m not sure about the species of  the spider in the featured image, but the beetle is a soldier beetle, bit I won’t push my luck by being more precise as there are 530 European species and many of them look alike.

This, by the way, is my 800th post. I think I must be getting a little blasé about blogging because it’s not as exciting as it used to be when you hit a big round number.  However, I just prodded the dashboard at the top of the screen and found that I can put an accent on the final e of blasé. It’s only taken me 800 posts to find that out, but then I didn’t need it in the first 799. (It’s the Ω sign).

I’m going to write a post about Schrödinger now I can spell his name properly.

 

Bridges, Locks and Hearts

As I recall, we were at Wilford Suspension Bridge when we left the Embankment. It is not to be confused with Wilford Toll Bridge. I’ll  cover the Toll Bridge later.

The suspension bridge was built by the Nottingham Corporation Water Department in 1906 to carry a pipeline that delivered water to Wilford Hill Resevoir. It also carries two gas mains across the river.

The most interesting feature these days are the padlocks. They have become popular over the last few years and are used to represent undying love. They are more likely to appear in romantic locations such as Paris, Venice and Cologne. I didn’t know Cologne was a romantic destination, but it days so in the Nottingham Post so it must be true.

The Pont des Arts in Paris lost several metres of parapet in 2014, ripped of by the weight of locks. They are trying to discourage the practice but by the end of 2015 there were an estimated million locks on the bridge – thought to weight 45 tonnes. With scrap brass at just over £2,000 a tonne, and allowing for 50% of the weight being steel that’s £45,000. That sound you hear is me thinking…

 

They used to have locks on the bridge at Bakewell too, but they were going to remove some. I’ll have to pop up and see if there are any left.

Love locks, despite seeming quite recent to us, actually date back to the Great War in Serbia. They are generally seen as messy and dangerous by all but the people placing them. As the current divorce rate in the UK is 47% local authorities are probably safe asuming most of the couples aren’t still on speaking terms.

I won’t carry on in this cynical vein, though it is tempting to compare the locks, the price of weddings and public displays of emotion with the divorce rate.

When I just asked Julia what she thought was the secret of a lasting marriage. She replied: “I must have been very bad in a previous life.”

That wasn’t really the answer I’d been hoping for.

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Book Review: History Without the Boring Bits

History Without the Boring Bits

by Ian Crofton

Quercus (2007) This edition 2015

Paperback 362 pp  £9.99

ISBN-10: 1847240860

ISBN-13: 978-1847240866

Not so much a title as a challenge. I’m not sure I can resist it. Having read a previous book of Crofton’s on food, I wasn’t expecting too much but it was reduced to £2.99 so there wasn’t much to risk.

The food book was very basic, and a few hours on the internet would have given you most, if not all the information. This one is a step up from that, seeming to cram a lot more in. Unfortunately a succession of interesting snippets doesn’t make for an interesting book. I’d like to see fewer entries, with a bit more information about each one. Apart from the bits I already know, there are many entries that aren’t particularly interesting, and some that are just unpleasant. (To my mind he seems overly fond of mutilation.)

So, referring back to the challenge contained in the title, no it hasn’t missed all the boring bits out. It’s a good book to dip into, but sometimes you may have to skim before finding a gem.  I was pleased with it after my earlier experience with the food book, though still a little ambivalent, and have just ordered another of his books from Amazon. It cost me £2.81 including postage and packing so even if it’s rubbish it’s not a great loss.

I’ll let you know what happens.

On the Embankment

I had a walk on the Embankment after dropping Julia off at work.

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The Embankment, Nottingham, looking towards Trent Bridge

I’m not sure if all the detail will show up in the photo, but starting from the right – those spindly circular lights are the lights of Trent Bridge cricket ground. The floodlights just showing behind the trees on the right bank of the river are from the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest. Just behind that is the Lady Bay, base of Nottingham Rugby and across the river is Meadow Lane, the ground of Notts County. I couldn’t get a viewpoint that showed them. The two football grounds are the closest in England, about 300 yards according to Wiki. I think it’s fair to say that this is the sporting centre of Nottingham.

Fishing has always been popular along the Trent, as you can see. The blue bridge is the actual Trent Bridge and the one behind is Lady Bay Bridge, an ex-railway bridge converted to take vehicles.

The river has also been used for recreational rowing for many years. Nottingham Rowing Club was founded in 1862, becoming the Nottingham and Union Rowing Club after the war when the two clubs merged. The Union Club had been bombed out during the Nottingham Blitz in 1941. The current Nottingham Rowing Club was formed in 2006 when the  Nottingham Boat Club (founded 1894) and the Nottingham Britannia Rowing Club (founded 1869) merged. The NBC boathouse was the victim of a Suffragette arson attack in 1913. Members attended the next Suffragette meeting where they “subjected them to embarassment and indignities”.

The political graffiti “artists” have been out. I assume this was a disgruntled “Remain” voter.

Nottingham’s War Memorial, though undoubtedly grand, is rather too much about Nottingham for my taste. There are 72,246 names on the Thiepval memorial to the dead of the Somme battles who have no known grave.  There are 54,395 names on the Menin Gate for the dead of the Ypres Salient who had no known grave. At that point they ran out of space and those who died after 15th August 1917 are commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial. The New Zealand and Newfoundland governments made their own arrangements.

I know many, if not all, of the Nottingham dead will be on local memorials. In fact 55 rowers (including Albert Ball) are commemorated on Trent Bridge. (One day I must count all the memorials Albert Ball is listed on.) It just seems that without the personal link of names it lacks a dimension.

Finally, the last picture is the Wilford Suspension Bridge. Apart from being a pedestrian Bridge it carries a water main and two gas pipes. It also makes a convenient place to stop.

 

Almost According to Plan…

Well, it rolled out almost as I expected.

I loaded the pictures, I had lunch and I read a couple of chapters of the book  I’m currently reading. That wasn’t actually in the plan but I like to keep the momentum going.

Things ground to a temporary halt. Just as I entered the surgery some ferrety type slipped round me to beat me to the desk. I hate it when people do that. If they get there first, that’s life, but why treat it as a race? Naturally he had a complicated matter to sort out. I dropped a few hints, like leaning on a convenient pillar and whimpering.

I was just on the point of suggesting (a) he accepted the “wrong” drugs on his prescription and (b) he took them all in one lot when the receptionist called for help.

Shopping was easy enough. The kids like breaded chicken and it’s cheap. Add salad and baked potatoes and it’s easy, cheap and mostly healthy.

Then it was time to get home for Pointless.

You may have noticed a few omissions, but I forgot the ice cream (and the brown sauce) and decided it was too hot for duck ponds.

I see I got my sons mixed up. It was Number Two son I coerced into doing the washing up and Number One who was coming to visit. He made his own way from the station, which was a bonus. We had tea, they mumbled, I dozed off.

It’s comforting to know that in an ever-changing world that some things remain the same.

Nature note: Julia was walking along the embankment in the afternoon on her way between the garden and the office, when she saw a Cormorant catch an eel. It was quite a big eel, and kept thrashing about until it wrapped round the bird’s neck. This is understandable, as things were clearly going to end badly for the eel if it couldn’t escape.

After a certain amount of thrashing about and diving, the bird won. I’m not sure what the diving was meant to accomplish, the eel clearly wasn’t going to be inconvenienced by it. Eels like water.

When I asked if she’d managed to get any photos on her phone…

…well I’d have been too interested watching too.

Tomorrow I will tell you, with photographs, what Number One son brought back fron Vietnam.

TGIF

First job of the day was to wake up. I did not achieve total success in carrying out this task. My mistake had been uttering those immortal words “I’ll just have another few minutes.” I set my new phone to give me 15 more minutes and, 25 minutes after it went off, was found cuddling it affectionately to my bosom.

Julia soon put a stop to that.

We visited the Mencap garden next and I had a look at the progress made during the week. Julia is aiming to build some interest amongst group members and to tidy up a bit. It’s never going to be immaculate, and that isn’t the intention, but she is aiming to make the garden more productive and define the wildlife areas more clearly. We know from bitter experience that visitors are all to keen to complain about weeds, and that this always causes problems.

Then, after coffee and cake (the remains of our stash from Mrs Botham) it was time to go home. It also seemed a good time to take Julia’s new Facebook profile photo.  She always looks happier after cake.

I realise that cake for breakfast is probably frowned on by Big NHS Brother but what harm can a bit of cake do? The sultanas alone must be worth one of my five a day, and if they really want us to go to ten a day I’m going to struggle without cake.

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Great job, cake, wonderful husband – you just have to smile

From home, it was off to the anticoagulant clinic again. I won’t bore you will the details, but after struggling to get my blood to respond to anticoagulants they are now struggling to stop it responding. I let them flap for a bit, but as stress is a killer I decided not to worry about it.

Final job of the morning is checking out a few blogs and writing my first post of the day. That is now done, and after loading a few pictures I will be doing my first job of the afternoon, which is eating lunch. The other plans are collect prescription, shop for evening meal, visit duck pond, eat ice cream and watch Pointless.

In the evening I shall coerce Number One son into washing up, collect Number Two son from the station, cook tea, dispense unwanted fatherly advice on a variety of subjects, and complain that nobody speaks clearly these days. They will counter this final assertion by pointing to hearing aid adverts on the TV, though I may well be asleep before any come on.